St. Therese of the Child Jesus and Holy Face, was a
Carmelite Nun in a Carmelite monastery in Lisieux,
France. She is also known as the Little Flower of
Jesus. She was born at Alençon, France, 2 January,
1873; died at Lisieux 30 September, 1897.
She was the ninth child of saintly parents, Louis
and Zélie Martin, both of whom had wished to
consecrate their lives to God in the cloister. The
vocation denied them was given to their children,
five of whom became religious, one to the Visitation
Order and four in the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux.
Brought up in an atmosphere of faith where every
virtue and aspiration were carefully nurtured and
developed, her vocation manifested itself when she
was still only a child. Educated by the Benedictines,
when she was fifteen she applied for permission to
enter the Carmelite Convent, and being refused by
the superior, went to Rome with her father, as eager
to give her to God as she was to give herself, to seek
the consent of the Holy Father, Leo XIII, then
celebrating his jubilee. He preferred to leave the
decision in the hands of the superior, who finally
consented and on 9 April, 1888, at the unusual age
of fifteen, Thérèse Martin entered the convent of
Lisieux where two of her sisters had preceded her.
The account of the eleven years of her religious
life, marked by signal graces and constant growth
in holiness, is given by Sister Thérèse in her
autobiography, written in obedience to her superior
and published two years after her death. In 1901 it
was translated into English, and in 1912 another
translation, the first complete edition of the life of
the Servant of God, containing the autobiography,
"Letters and Spiritual Counsels", was published.
Its success was immediate and it has passed into
many editions, spreading far and wide the devotion
to this "little" saint of simplicity, and abandonment
in God's service, of the perfect accomplishment of
small duties. This autobiography is now published
under the title Story of a Soul.
The fame of her sanctity and the many miracles
performed through her intercession caused the
introduction of her cause of canonization only
seventeen years after her death, 10 Jun, 1914.
She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997.
After nine years as a Carmelite religious, having fulfilled various offices such as sacristan and assistant to the novice mistress, and having spent the last eighteen months in Carmel in a night of faith, she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.
The impact of The Story of a Soul, a collection of her autobiographical manuscripts, printed and distributed a year after her death to an initially very limited audience, was great, and she rapidly became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century.
In effect, the book provides five different Ways of the Cross which the reader can use for prayer. A complete set of reflections from each saint includes a brief Scripture passage, followed by a selection from the saint’s writings; footnotes identify the source document for each.
These saints have a perennial message for us, helping us to mine, as St. John of the Cross described it, the deep, inexhaustible love and riches of Christ, especially demonstrated in his Passion, death and resurrection.
The Way of the Cross with the Carmelite Saints is an ideal prayer resource for the Lenten season, or for personal prayer and reflection at any time throughout the year.